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James Viscardi:
RECREATIONAL MODERNISM
December 7th, 2012 - January 26th 2013
Peter Amby Gallery

Like ruins of a post-historical present, paintings inhabit a realm between discordant languages; art, advertising, caricature. The gallery meets the domestic; the concrete floor of the traditional gallery versus the soft disarming comfort of a carpeted living room. A modernist theater box to view and absorb paintings in private, recalling the architectural theories of early modernist architect Adolf Loos. 

Bodies without heads; powerless to the eyes of the viewer. Laid bare to deconstruct at your discretion. For this exhibition James Viscardi’s paintings give you the tools for meaning, the fragments of histories, but the rules are at your disposal to be broken and rearranged as you see fit. Maybe a head can have life without a body but through this thought experiment one concludes that a body cannot have life without a head.

The idea of maintaining a living brain, uncontained, has been a popular dream in science fiction as well as philosophy, "the brain in a vat," inspired by the thinking of Descartes. The brain controls our thought, emotions, movement, expression, and perception.

Early Soviet scientist Sergei Brukhonenko is claimed to have kept the head of a dog alive, using an "autojector," a sort of primitive heart and lung machine. Footage of the experiment shows a dog’s head that reacts to different stimuli; light, touch and sound. 

This is not the case in the paintings of James Viscardi. Several bodies without heads are depicted in his still lives. Even though they are "nature mortes", they appear vibrant, not only in color, but also in line, and movement. Objects and mediums of everyday life combine with notions of painting and drawing to create absurdist experiments, new realities.

A woman seated, the quickly drawn outline of a body, male buttocks dissolved into constructivist space, torsos floating on gingham canvases, like icons for the everyday world. An empty suit ironed and waiting for it’s inhabitant, a vessel of modern life, going through the motions, an abstraction. They are all seemingly alive, beckoning the viewer to play. 

James Viscardi was born in 1985 in New York. He graduated with an MFA in Painting from Royal College of Art in London in 2011 and a BFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2008.

His exhibition, Recreational Modernism, is his first solo presentation in Scandinavia.